Someone just brought an iPhone into the office, and I got to play around with it for a bit. I recently said something about why you shouldn’t buy one. I’d like to revisit some of my points from that piece.
The virtual keyboard
For me, the virtual keyboard is virtually useless. I have normal sized hands, for someone my size, and using my thumbs to type is out of the question, as the risk of hitting one of the adjacent keys instead of what you wanted to press is, for me, around 50%. Which leaves me with two-handed operation as the only real alternative.
The touch screen
I mentioned the grid overlay, and yes, it does steal light, and the screen is less bright than non-touchscreen displays. Note that it is more than reasonably bright for indoor use. As for how bad the loss of brightness is, compared to other touch screens, I’d say it’s neither among the best or worst of the bunch.
One of the things I had read about, but hadn’t expected to be nearly as bad as it was, was the stains. The device I tried looked like it had had a kid with sticky fingers as the primary user for a couple of weeks. Make sure that you always have something to wipe the screen with available.
The automatically rotating display was really nice, though. The biggest problem with this feature is that it’s only supported in a few applications, like the iPod/iTunes stuff, the photo album and in Safari.
No, the screen, or the resolution isn’t bad, compared to other offerings. With the prior reservation about brightness and staining, it’s more than comfortable enough for viewing YouTube videos, or read maps on Google Maps. On the other hand, the screen is absolutely not amazing. The screen on my Nokia 6300(!) is both brighter, and sharper. And I still want that 640×480 display from the OpenMoko.
- Row 1: fixed positioning, minimum and maximum heights, and minimum and maximum widths.
- Rows 4-5: paint order and fixed backgrounds. More specifically,the background behind the eyes is orange, which, IIRC, indicates problems with handling
So, what’s using the browser like? In landscape mode, most text is readable when zoomed in, even on this site. In portrait mode, whether the text is at all readable is more a matter of luck, as the browser does not seem to do any sort of dynamic text-wrapping or other adjustments to ensure that you get both a minimum font-size when you’re zoomed in without having to scroll both horizontally and vertically. In this respect, the current beta of Opera Mini 4 works much better, as you rarely, if ever, have to choose between horizontal scrolling and readable text.
Scrolling quickly in Safari also seems to reveal a bit about how the iPhone renders graphics:
- When you zoom in, you first get a blurred, low-detail zoomed in version of the page, that changes to a more detailed view. This is much the same you see with interlaced PNG images on the web: First the low-detail version, then the proper one.
- When you scroll quickly around, the iPhone will only render the new part of the page after some time, indicating that the iPhone is always just rendering to a texture barely bigger than the screen. The upside to this is that scrolling feels reasonably snappy, but at the same time, the downside is that it that it, at the same time, feels slow, because you’ll end up staring at a grey screen for 0.1-0.3 seconds before actually being able to read.
Stuff I missed
When I last wrote about this, I missed the following — The iPhone has absolutely no clipboard. You can’t select text. This is unforgivable. For instance, you can forget about using the phone to input data into the social web